The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), on Wednesday (January 22), unveiled a humanoid or human-robot named ‘Vyommitra’ which will be sent to space as part of the Gaganyaan mission, which is the most crucial mission in India’s human spaceflight programme.
Last month, ISRO had mentioned the launch of the first test-flight of Gaganyaan during the launch of geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV) MKIII that will be carrying the humanoid to space by the end of 2020.
Once the humanoid is sent to space, ISRO scientists will be able to monitor the activities and progress of Vyommitra in order to prepare the robot for the manned mission in 2022.
Meet Vyommitra, The Robot That Mimics Humans
As ISRO is preparing for its ambitious Gaganyaan mission, the ‘half-humanoid’ Vyommitra will lead the human spaceflight programme. “It is called ‘half-humanoid’ because it does not have legs. It is designed in such a way that it always remains in contact with the ISRO command centre,” said Sam Dayal, a scientist at ISRO.
A Twitter video shared by commercial pilot Nagarjun Dwarakanath shows a glimpse of Vyommitra, India’s first half-humanoid. It is said to mimic humans, perform several mission-critical activities such as life support operations, switch panel operations and more. The humanoid can also act as a companion for astronauts, converse with them and even recognise each individual on board.
— Nagarjun Dwarakanath (@nagarjund) January 22, 2020
Vyommitra is said to have several sensors on board which will help ISRO scientists gather data during the unmanned space mission which is scheduled to be launched in December 2020 and June 2021.
ISRO while announcing its future roadmap, in December 2019, said that it will be launching over ten satellites, Aditya L1 (Sun) mission by mid-2020 and more. Also, it will be launching several communication satellites like Gisat1, Gisat 12R and earth observation satellites such as Risat-2BR2 and Microsat.
The Gaganyaan project will be India’s first attempt to send Indians to space aboard an Indian spacecraft. In 1984, wing commander Rakesh Sharma flew aboard Russia’s Soyuz T-11 and became the first Indian to go into space, but the series of missions under Gaganyaan will be ISRO’s most ambitious till date.
After the success of Mangalyaan and the near-success of Chandrayaan-2 last year, ISRO has been in the global space tech limelight. It remains to be seen whether Gaganyaan will earn the same plaudits as other high-profile Indian space missions.